Skip to content
Main Menu
Utah Attorney General
Search
Attorney General
Sean D. Reyes
Utah Office of the Attorney General
Alerts
Close
Secondary Navigation

Sex Trafficking a Major Concern in Southern Utah

August 15, 2019

Sex trafficking is a major concern in southern Utah. Due to its proximity to major cities and its moderate climate, the area is ideal for traffickers’ primary targets, such as the homeless and runaways. Traffickers watch malls, parks, and schools to find their victims, then enslave them by getting the victims addicted to drugs.

Law enforcement say that rotations happen every 7 to 8 months. Young women are trafficked from Las Vegas to St. George, Salt Lake City, Washington state, California, and then back.

“They [traffickers] think they can make money in St. George at any given time. They’ll send those young women up here, and they use narcotics to keep a rope around the women to control them,” said Leo Lucy, Chief of Investigations at the Utah Attorney General’s Office, during an interview with ABC 4 News.

Law enforcement is actively investigating human trafficking, and conduct sting operations several times a year.

To report tips regarding human trafficking, please contact the Utah Attorney General’s Office:

  • Utah Human Trafficking Tipline: 801-200-3443
  • Internet Crimes Against Children Tipline: 801-281-1211

Human Trafficking in Utah

July 3, 2019

Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry, and it’s happening right here in Utah. In 2018, the Utah Attorney General’s Office conducted 49 human trafficking investigations, prosecuted 8 cases, and served 44 victims.

Rather than using ropes and chains to confine and control their victims, traffickers use “invisible ropes” involving complex manipulative tactics to control their victims, which can make it difficult to recognize human trafficking.

For information on how you can recognize and report human trafficking visit: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/human-trafficking-awareness-day-2019/

To report tips regarding human trafficking, please contact the Utah Attorney General’s Office:

  • Utah Human Trafficking Tipline: 801-200-3443
  • Internet Crimes Against Children Tipline: 801-281-1211

In the News: Sex Trafficking Victim Speaks Out

March 18, 2019

Last Wednesday, Joseph Moore was sentenced to two terms of five years up to life in prison for sex trafficking a 16-year-old child and exploiting his own adult daughter for prostitution. You can read the full press release here: Man Sentenced to Consecutive Terms of Life in Prison for Sex Trafficking a Child.

Assistant Attorney General Dan Strong had the opportunity to visit with Brittany Johnson of ABC 4 News Friday to discuss sex trafficking and the responsibility adults have to protect and help children.

“Adults throughout society, we have a responsibility to children. If we find a child in a desperate situation that’s having a hard time, it’s our responsibility to help that child. The worst thing you can do is see a child in that position and think, “here’s a way I can make a buck.” And that’s what the defendant did in this case,” said Strong.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, report it to Utah law enforcement at 801-200-3443 or to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

Man Sentenced to Consecutive Terms of Life in Prison for Sex Trafficking a Child

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2019

 

MAN SENTENCED TO CONSECUTIVE TERMS OF UP TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR SEX TRAFFICKING A CHILD

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Joseph Moore was sentenced to two terms of five years up to life in prison for sex trafficking a 16-year-old child and exploiting his own adult daughter for prostitution. Moore was convicted of Human Trafficking, Aggravated Exploitation of Prostitution Involving a Child, and Exploitation of Prostitution, after a three-day jury trial in January 2019.

The key witness in the case was the child victim. She testified that she was befriended by Moore’s adult daughter, who then introduced her to Moore himself. Moore proposed that the two girls could make money through commercial sex work. He helped them set up advertising online, transported them along the Wasatch Front for commercial sex appointments, and collected up to half of the profit made from the commercial sex scheme. The child victim testified that Moore also propositioned her for sex in exchange for money on several occasions, although she refused.

Moore’s conduct amounted to human trafficking because he recruited, solicited, and transported a child for commercial sex. Under state and federal law, the commercial sexual exploitation of children is human trafficking, regardless of whether force was used. Prosecutors argued to the jury that, as an adult, Moore had a responsibility to protect children. Instead, he treated this child victim and his own adult daughter like commodities to be bought and sold.

The jury convicted Moore after a few hours of deliberation. At his sentencing, Judge Valencia with the Second District Court sentenced him to two terms of five years up to life in prison, and another term of zero to five years in prison, all to run consecutively. This is the maximum possible sentence for these charges. Judge Valencia emphasized that the victim impact statement written by the child victim for sentencing was among the most powerful she had ever read.

“To many, it’s shocking that human trafficking can occur here in Utah. But like everywhere in America, it’s a tragic reality in our communities,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “We continue to prioritize these cases and aggressively pursue traffickers who victimize men, women and children of all backgrounds. Survivors of trafficking may suffer their entire lives from the pain and torment they have endured in cases like these.”

“Human trafficking cases are enormously complicated. A victory like this is always the product of a dedicated team attacking the case from several angles,” said Assistant Attorney General Daniel Strong. Attorney General Reyes thanked the following partners, individuals, etc. for their effective work in this case:

  • The Utah Attorney General’s Office’s SECURE Strike Force, which is tasked with investigating human trafficking throughout the state. In particular, SECURE Strike Force Agents served as lead investigators and uncovered important evidence to corroborate the victim’s testimony;
  • The Ogden City Police Department, who initially referred the case and assisted with preparation for trial;
  • Victim service providers with the Refugee and Immigrant Center, Asian Association of Utah (RIC-AAU). They provided comprehensive services to the child victim in this case, untethered to her cooperation in the prosecution.
  • The Utah Attorney General’s Office’s own victim services coordinator, Ruthie Pedregon, who ensured that the victims’ rights were represented at every stage of the proceeding;
  • Assistant Attorneys General Daniel Strong and Tye Christensen, who filed the case, argued important evidentiary motions, presented the trial, and argued at sentencing. Paralegal Michelle Rasmussen kept the case file for the prosecution and assisted in putting together the trial.

Unfortunately, the interfamilial dynamic of this trafficking case is very common. The Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC) estimates that almost half of all child trafficking cases begin with some family member involvement. If you encounter or suspect any form of human trafficking, you can report it to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 888-373-7888.

###

NOTES:

  1. More information on the SECURE Strike Force: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/secure-task-force/
  2. More information on the UTIP Task Force: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/initiatives/human-trafficking/

Human Trafficking 101: How to Recognize / How to Report.

January 25, 2019

In a lunchtime discussion this week, professionals from varying backgrounds shared their knowledge and expertise on the human trafficking industry and what people can do to recognize the common signs and report them. (See our previous post for a quick list.)

Listen in here:

Among the panelists were an Assistant Attorney General from the SECURE Strike Force, a Supervisory Special Agent from the SECURE Strike Force, a Trafficking in Persons Director, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, and a human trafficking survivor.

The panel focused on the basics – what is human trafficking, how to recognize it, and how to report it. The panelists shared their insights influenced by their medical, legal, law enforcement, and personal backgrounds. Each had a gripping understanding of the horrors of human trafficking and shared how an average person can help combat this industry.

The panelists urged the audience to have kindness, seek out training, support legislators as they make and pass laws to combat human trafficking, and to simply become aware of how prevalent human trafficking is – even in Utah.

Here’s the Facebook Live video – please share with friends, and help end this crime.

January 11th: Human Trafficking Awareness Day

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The Utah Attorney General’s Office, in partnership with the Trafficking in Persons Program, Refugee & Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah, and the Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force, will present a series of commentaries to educate and engage the public on the realities and complex dynamics of human trafficking.

Recognizing and Reporting

Human trafficking, by its criminal nature, is secretive. Traffickers use “invisible ropes” involving complex manipulative tactics to control their victims. If human trafficking in Utah doesn’t typically involve the use of handcuffs, chains, cages, locked rooms, or shipping containers that books and movies might use to portray the subject, how can we recognize it?

 First, before addressing the red flags which may indicate human trafficking and what someone observing red flags can do, remember Rule #1: Keep yourself safe. Do not place yourself in danger. Never confront a suspected trafficker.

If you can safely observe a suspicious situation, recognize the red flags, and report them to the proper authorities, you can make a difference. Most of the successful human trafficking cases prosecuted through the Attorney General’s office have started with a tip from a concerned citizen.

There are a number of red flags that, in and of themselves, may not be too sinister. But as the red flags pile up, they may begin to indicate a trafficking situation. Pay particular attention to any situation where:

  • A person is recruited for work with grand and unlikely promises;
  • A person works excessive hours for little or no pay;
  • A person exhibits signs of untreated illness or injuries;
  • A person is not in control of his or her identification, immigration, or travel documents;
  • A person exchanges sex to meet basic needs, e.g., food, clothing, or shelter;
  • A person’s behavior appears to be controlled or fearful;
  • A younger person travels with an older boyfriend or companion who seems particularly watchful or controlling;
  • A person suddenly acquires expensive and/or revealing clothing, jewelry, or electronics, without explanation for how they obtained the products;
  • A person’s communication is restricted and she or he is unable to speak separately or alone;
  • A person owes money to her or his employer;
  • A person says they “can’t quit” their job because of fear of some great harm, such as deportation;
  • A person demonstrates sudden changes in behavior.

These red flags are not uncommon. Any given day we could encounter someone we suspect might be a victim of human trafficking—either for labor or sexual exploitation—while we are at a park, at the mall, on a bus or train, or even at school. If it can be done safely, consider asking some questions that will elicit helpful information without appearing to be inquiring about human trafficking. Ask about where they are from, where they live now, or with whom they live. If they are traveling with a suspicious companion, ask how they met. If they have tattoos—which can be used to brand or identify a trafficker’s victims—ask about them, what do they mean, when did they get them, what’s the story behind them.

If the conversation proceeds to uncover additional red flags, and circumstances permit—remember not to place yourself in danger or ask too specific of questions while a suspected trafficker is within hearing range—move to deeper, more targeted questions.  Ask if they have ever been forced to do work that they did not want to do, or if they have ever worked in a place where the work was different from what they were promised it would be. Ask if anyone takes all or part of the money they earn. Has anyone threatened them or their family? Are they in possession of their identification and travel documents, or does someone else have control over those documents? Has anyone ever taken photos of them and put them on the internet?  Have they ever exchanged sex for food, shelter, drugs, or money? Ask if they feel trapped in their situation. 

Traffickers rely on the general public not asking questions, not recognizing the red flags, and simply looking the other way. Simple conversation with someone we might suspect is a victim of human trafficking can provide valuable insights into the situation. Details and red flags identified from a conversation can then be passed on to law enforcement officers who can further investigate and determine whether human trafficking is taking place. 


On January 22nd we’ll host a lunchtime panel discussion – Brown Bag: Human Trafficking 101. Please join us as we cover more information on the topic of recognizing and reporting human trafficking. Watch our Facebook page for details.


To report tips regarding human trafficking, please contact the Utah Attorney General’s Office:

  • Utah Human Trafficking Tipline: 801-200-3443
  • Internet Crimes Against Children Tipline: 801-281-1211

January is National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month

1/9/2019

Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, in an effort to educate and protect the citizens of Utah, issued the following statement recognizing National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

“Having seen the brutal effects of human trafficking  in a very close and personal way, I can attest that it robs victims of innocence, dignity, and hope. It is a horrific violation of human rights and a crime of terror. Every Utahn – every American – must understand that human trafficking can be found in any community — rural or urban, wealthy or modest, religious or secular. It does not discriminate in its victimization of people of all backgrounds.

“The eradication of human trafficking should be a priority for all who value justice, virtue and freedom. The fight to end human trafficking transcends political and ideological differences. It is not a Democrat or Republican issue but a humanitarian one. As such, it is critical for Utah and all states to work even more closely with law enforcement, first responders, and the communities who come in contact with human trafficking victims to combat modern-day slavery.

“We are grateful for our partnerships here at home, across the nation, and abroad that educate the public, liberate the captives, and provide healing for survivors. Utah has made great strides in recent years and is a recognized worldwide leader in the fight. But it’s still not enough. I invite all Utahns to get involved. Know the signs and learn how to report. Good people will not rest until human trafficking is eradicated from every community in Utah and around the world.”

Stay tuned over the next few weeks. The Utah Attorney General’s Office will publish a short series of human trafficking articles – how to recognize trafficking, how to report, and detailing elements of this $150 billion worldwide industry. Thank you for paying attention.

In the News

November 28, 2018

Over the last few weeks, our investigators and prosecutors tracked down an alleged human trafficker, caught a guy with child porn, brought down a large Ponzi scheme, and arrested several men in Southern Utah accused of trying to meet up with minors.

These are just a few highlights of an office team working on thousands of cases in an effort to protect and keep all Utahns safe.

You can catch up on all you may have missed below. Thanks for paying attention.

Human Trafficking

Deseret News: Charges: Man forced women into prostitution, human trafficking
Salt Lake Tribune: Utah attorney general’s office arrests man for human trafficking after victims come forward
KSL: Man charged in human trafficking case
Fox13: Utah Attorney General’s Office arrest a man for human trafficking of two women
KUTV: Utah arrests man accused of prostituting, raping, kidnapping and beating two women

Child Pornography

KSL: Man accused of having 100 gigabytes of child porn facing federal charges
Standard-Examiner: Kaysville man accused of downloading, possessing 100 GB of child pornography

Ponzi Scheme

KJZZ: Utah man, company charged with taking $170M from hundreds of people in Ponzi scheme
Fox13: Authorities say Ponzi scheme at Rust Rare Coin in Utah took hundreds of victims for $170 million

Crimes Against Children

St. George News: Police arrest 7 men accused of attempting to meet boys, girls for sex
The Spectrum: 7 men accused of trying to meet with minors for sex in Washington County
KUTV: 6 men arrested for attempting to meet minors for sex in Washington County
abc4: 7 men arrested accused of trying to meet minors for sex

Photo by Roman Kraft

2018 Report Card: Utah & child sex trafficking

November 20, 2018

Every year each state in the union gets a grade on their efforts in the fight against human trafficking by Shared Hope International, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending child sex trafficking. Shared Hope does this in a variety of ways, one of which is advocating in each state for stronger legislation that criminalizes the various aspects of human trafficking.

States are graded on the analysis and review of six areas:

  • Criminalization of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking 
  • Criminal Provisions for Demand (those who buy)
  • Criminal Provisions for Traffickers (those who sell)
  • Criminal Provisions for Facilitators (those who help)
  • Protective Provisions for Child Victims 
  • Criminal Justice Tools for Investigation & Prosecution

Report cards for 2018 were just released and Utah continues to be a leader in the fight against human trafficking. This is due in large part to Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes who is a strong, international voice who speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves.

 

Human trafficking is a top priority for the Utah Attorney General’s Office carried out by the Utah SECURE Strike Force and Utah Trafficking in Persons Task Force. Due to their action, the state of Utah has made several improvements to their legal code including: 

  • Prohibiting prosecution of children engaged in prostitution and mandating their referral to DCFS for services (2015 amendments)
  • Defining child trafficking as child abuse subject to protections and intervention in juvenile court and through DCFS (2015 amendments)
  • Punishing facilitators/beneficiaries of child trafficking the same as the direct offenders (I’m not sure when this was added)
  • Allowing victims of trafficking to sue their traffickers for civil damages (2017 amendments)

You can read the entire report here: Utah Report Card – Shared Hope 2018

To see how Utah compared to other states, go here: https://sharedhope.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/2018ProtectedInnocenceChallengeToolkit.pdf.

Photo Courtesy of Shared Hope International

Utah AG’s Office arrests suspected human trafficker

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 14, 2018

 

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE ARRESTS SUSPECTED HUMAN TRAFFICKER
Women share stories of assault, abuse, and forced prostitution

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office arrested James Savage Brown for multiple felony charges, including human trafficking, against two women. Charges against James Savage Brown consist of five first-degree felonies, including sexual exploitation and assault, and two second-degree felonies of aggravated exploitation of prostitution.
 
AG Special Agents learned of Brown’s activity earlier this year from one of the victims after she was released from the Salt Lake County Detention Center. While there, the victim encountered another woman who had suffered similarly at the hands of Brown. Both women told stories of sexual assault, physical abuse, and repeated forced prostitution.

James Savage Brown has a lengthy criminal history, both in Utah and California. In addition to the charges already filed, agents found stolen credit cards, marijuana, and a distributable amount of meth in his possession at the time of his arrest earlier today. The Utah Attorney General’s Office requested that James Savage Brown’s bail be denied as he poses a risk of danger to the community. 

The two victims are receiving treatment by a partner agency of the Attorney General’s Utah Trafficking in Person’s Task Force.

“The accused is entitled to a presumption of innocence. So we won’t make any more statements about him while the case is being prosecuted,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “But we can express how relieved we are that the alleged victims are safe and receiving the best resources we have at our disposal. We are grateful our agents and everyone else involved in the investigation and arrest are all safe. Human trafficking is a despicable crime that we in the Utah AGO are deeply committed to combat with aggressive investigations and prosecutions.”

The Attorney General’s SECURE Strike force executed the investigation and arrest. SECURE is tasked by the Utah Legislature with investigating and prosecuting large-scale criminal operations, including human trafficking.

Human trafficking tips should be reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

# # #

NOTES:

  1. You can find a copy of the charging documents and probable cause statement here:  https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/James-Brown-Savage.pdf.
  2.  Read more about the AG’s SECURE Strike Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/secure-task-force/.
  3. You can find more information on the Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/initiatives/human-trafficking/.
Site SettingsSettings